Cheyenne Mountain Zoo welcomes first baby hippo in 32 years


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is welcoming a new baby hippo–its first in 32 years.

The zoo said 28-year-old Nile hippopotamus Zambezi welcomed her first calf on Tuesday. At 1:57 p.m., the baby hippo popped up from underwater, bobbed up and down, and swam right over to meet its mom.

  • Nile hippopotamus Zambezi and her newborn / Courtesy Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Nile hippopotamus Zambezi and her newborn / Courtesy Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Nile hippopotamus Zambezi and her newborn / Courtesy Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

As long as things continue to go well for Zambezi and her baby, the hippo building will be open and guests can visit them in Water’s Edge: Africa right away. If Zambezi or the baby show signs they need more quiet time, the Zoo will close the area temporarily.

So far, mom and baby appear to be healthy and bonding well. Staff will continue monitoring the two hippos regularly and won’t separate mom and baby for an exam unless they think it’s medically necessary.

The 3,200-pound Zambezi came to Colorado Springs from the Denver Zoo in 1993. In June 2020, Biko, a now 18-year-old long-legged male Nile hippo, joined the herd on a breeding recommendation with Zambezi and her sister, Kasai. Biko and Zambezi took a shining to each other nearly immediately. Zoo staff saw their first successful breeding in November. The baby was born eight months later – a normal full-term gestation for Nile hippos.

Video of Zambezi giving birth:

Normal newborn hippos can weigh between 40 and 80 pounds, and this calf appears to be in that range. Because there are no immediate plans to physically check the baby, its sex likely won’t be known for some time. The zoo will make plans to name the baby after its one-month birthday, following zoo tradition.

This baby is the fourth member of the hippo herd at the zoo, and the fourth baby born at Water’s Edge: Africa since April. On April 26, ring-tailed lemur Rogue welcomed her first baby. On July 11, Rogue’s sister, Allagash, gave birth to twins. The zoo said all first-time moms and their offspring are doing great.

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